Our third stop on our great American Adventure was the amazing Grand Canyon – another totally incredible place that is a must see! This was my second trip to the Grand Canyon and it is still as awe inspiring the second time around as the first.
After a very long drive from Anaheim (7 and three quarter hours!) we arrived at our hotel in Tusayan at around 5.30 in the afternoon. The drive from Anaheim was an easy one (although it is easy for me to say that as I was not driving – but it was straight forward) that pretty much took you straight out through the dessert. We had a brief stop for petrol and to use the bathroom at a pretty small town called Needles during the afternoon but we didn’t stop anywhere for food as we had purchased snacks and things to eat in the car before we left Anaheim. The temperature at our pit stop was 45 degrees so our refuelling was a quick one! The town of Tusayan is just outside the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park but so close that within 15 minutes we were on the south rim!
I was really keen to see sunset at the Canyon so after checking in to our hotel (more details on our hotel are below) we had a very quick dinner in their restaurant and made it into the park by 7.30pm to watch a beautiful sunset around 8pm. Entry into the park is US$30 per car for a 7 day permit. As you can see from the few photos of the family below the colours over the grand canyon at sunset are spectacular and so different to how it looks in the heat of the day. I am so pleased we headed in to the park for sunset to watch the colours change over the canyon and also get a small taste of our day ahead.
After a good nights sleep we grabbed a quick breakfast at a small local coffee shop in Tusayan called RP’s – their coffee was “ok” and they had breakfast options that suited the kids – always a bonus! We then took the 15 minute drive back to the south rim where we parked in the visitors centre car park. There was loads of parking in the park so we were pleased that we drove in and didn’t take the shuttle that the signs outside the park recommend! It meant we were free to come and go as we needed and could take our mini esky full of bottled water.
Once in the park we then did a really big walk along the rim. We started at Mather Point just near the visitors centre and walked to Bright Angel Lodge at Village. There was a great geology museum to visit along the way where we could learn about the history of the canyon and of course the view changed as we walked! It was not at all a difficult walk as it was flat and along a path but the weather was warm (we were there at the end of June) and into the 30’s so we were pleased we had loads of water to keep us hydrated. The distance we walked was about 3.5km which is not far but with kids, hot weather, the geology centre and a nice view to keep stopping to check out it took us a few hours.
After our walk we then caught the shuttle bus back to the main car park at the Visitors Centre – this was a quick 10 minute bus trip that stopped at various places to get us back to where we started. Once back at our starting point we decided to take a drive to Dessert View which was 35 km in the other direction. The drive was great – easy and of course picturesque with the canyon to one side and the dessert to the other. You could stop all along this drive at the numerous viewing spots that were not overcrowded. At Dessert View we visited the watch tower and found a different perspective of the canyon that was just as amazing!
Our drive from Dessert View back to Tusayan was approximately an hour heading back on the same road we had arrived on – easy and picturesque (you can see some of it in the video below). We had a fantastic trip to the Canyon – I know there is a lot more you can do like go hiking into the canyon or ride a donkey or even fly over in a helicopter but a simple walk and a drive was perfect for us travelling with kids!
We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Tusayan and it was great. We were in a standard room which included two queen beds and a rollaway. Rooms like this are always tight when travelling with 5 but we weren’t in the room that often so for this part of our trip it was fine! The hotel had a good restaurant and an indoor pool (which we didn’t use). We just stayed the two nights which is not long after a big trip to get here but we didn’t feel like we needed any more time at the Grand Canyon. On our last evening we had Mexican dinner at Sophie’s in Tusayan – it was delicious and I would definitely recommend it. Tusayan is not big and pretty much just has 8 or so hotels, a few restaurants, petrol stations and tourist shops – you can’t get lost and it is so close to the canyon that it is the perfect place to stay being a little cheaper than the hotels on the rim!
As always please let me know if you want any more information about visiting the Grand Canyon.